Wednesday, April 30, 2008

So few fear that God is on the other side of the fight

George Will wrote a column for the Washington Post yesterday that’s such junk, I’m not going to link to it. In it he calls Jeremiah Wright a demagogue and says that Obama’s association with such a man for 20 years should be a central issue for the Presidential campaign. Ah yes, judging a black man for having poor judgment while all these white people making that judgment don’t worry at all about how strangely any white preachers preach. What a world.

Reverend Wright doesn’t strike me as a demagogue, defined in my dictionary as a leader who obtains power by means of impassioned appeals to the emotions and prejudices of the populace. Wright only has power inside a church, where being a pastor is a lot more about getting things done and serving people than manipulating them. Yes, he is emotional, and that is unacceptable to some people, isn’t it? So many people have such inexperience with emotion that they see anger and they say it is hate. No, not necessarily.

A big part of my story since first experiencing God 19 years ago is that I wanted to know God wherever I could find him. I went to liberal churches and conservative churches. The difference there is simple enough. The latter believe the Bible was almost dictated by God. The former drifted away from that. They don’t often drift away as far as I have. I’m sure the Bible is strictly the words of men, even if some of those men knew a little about the real God.

There is another dimension that defines churches, namely how emotional a church is, what kind of music they play. Unfortunately for me there isn’t such a thing as a very liberal, very charismatic church, not one with a grip on reality as well as spirituality. That’s where I’d like to go. I know that from my time in more sedate liberal churches and fairly conservative, charismatic churches like the Vineyard fellowships. Ooh, I’d like to do some cultural engineering combining things I like about those while leaving out things I don’t like, such as the prejudices of sedate liberals against strong spiritual experience and the prejudices of conservatives against both liberal religion and liberal politics.

It’s occurred to me before that a Spirit-filled African-American church might be closest to what I want, but then I have this obvious reason not to fit in there, even if there’s plenty of testimony from whites attending Trinity United Church of Christ that they felt comfortable there, testimony lost on so many who have judged Reverend Wright recently. Still I wouldn’t fit in that well culturally, and I’m still too liberal for them theologically. I don’t think God punishes anyone with weather or strife. I don’t see that God controls the physical world at all. I don’t see any reason to believe in physical miracles. I don’t receive any revelation from God that I should believe in them anyway, just the opposite. I’m not sure what kind of church would put up with such beliefs from me.

I do know that I can have church just with God, communing with Him away from any distractions in prayer and in other ways. From that I’ve received God’s direction, comfort, strength, love, and hope for many years. Anyone could join me in that church. No one has wanted to. I understand. It’s too different.

I could be wrong. Maybe those few Catholics are right who claim their church is the only one God established. Maybe it’s that broader belief that conservatives have that believing the Bible to be the Word of God is what is critical. Maybe the real God goes even further than that, but not as far as I go.

I’ve worried about that at times, talked with God about that many times. That’s one reason I’ve explored every kind of church, even religions beyond Christianity. Where is God? I’ve wanted to know, relentlessly.

That’s how I’ve come to seeing my basic belief as being that God is whoever and whatever God is, not what any human being says God is, as that human being has no way of knowing anything of God except by God, and the mistakes human beings have made about this are plentiful and obvious.

That doesn’t exclude God being the traditional God of absolute power, knowledge, love, and goodness despite how this world looks, but that’s not the God I experience. My experience is no guarantee that God is as I experience Him to be. I can only rely on God to lead me past my experience if that is the direction I should follow, so that has been my constant prayer for years, for God to do just that. So from that, here I am, an extremely liberal, extremely charismatic Christian who understands Jeremiah Wright a lot better despite my light skin than so many know-it-alls in the media.

I know God might be very much with Jeremiah Wright. “God Damn America” is just as biblical as he said it is. Every “woe to” in the Bible, such as Luke 6: 24-26, can be replaced by “damn”. Instead of “woe to hypocrites”, “damn hypocrites” means the same thing.

Is that for this world or the next world? You can do what I do and ask God such questions. It’s usually slow getting an answer that way, but I’m quite grateful for how that’s worked for me. It doesn’t seem Sean Hannity has gotten good answers about Jeremiah Wright. Who do suppose Hannity asked? Perhaps it was his image in the mirror.

God is whoever and whatever God is. One can call that a tautology, but it isn’t if each “is” is somewhat different. Oh, someone beat me to that one, but it’s true. Words can be so ambiguous, any of them. How can people never wonder if God is on the other side of their fight? How can people dismiss the possibility that they’re wrong so easily?

It must be human nature. Yet when one becomes aware of the true range of possibilities, such as what science shows compared to what we learn only directly with our senses, one can learn not to be so limited, even to think that there might be more than just the physical universe. Experience helps in many ways. One way is that once you have considered that you are on the wrong side of God, it’s not as hard to imagine that possibility the next time.

My first experience with God was God telling me that I was wrong in giving up on the possibility that there is a God who loved me. That teaches me that I can drift off into being wrong again. It’s easier to consider the second time, the third time, ….

So many in politics and religion don’t seem to know this. I find that to be much more important than whether one expresses emotions “arrogantly” or suppresses one’s emotions so much that one’s anger and fear only comes out in intellectual prejudices.

Is God on the other side? I’ve asked that regularly. I’m with Jeremiah Wright, not that everything he says is right, but I’m with him, and I’m against the uninformed judgments in the media that says Wright should be shunned. That doesn’t mean God is with him also, unless you’re willing to believe how God answers me.

Yet all these conservatives are sure that God is with them or maybe that God is above all this. How do they know if they don’t ask that question from the only One who can answer it accurately?

1 comment:

Drew said...

There is a movement within the United Church of Christ to get Jeremiah Wright elected General Minister and President. See